We believe that nothing short of a socialist revolution, where the working class holds state power through institutions of its own creation, is capable of solving the problems that plague the working class, problems such as unemployment, a falling standard of living, imperialist wars, racial and sexual discrimination, the destruction of the environment, and a pervasive feeling of powerlessness in the face of corrupt, capitalist political institutions. At various times throughout modern history, workers and their allies, because of endemic suffering, have mobilized their ranks, risen up, and in a powerful gesture have fundamentally altered the capitalist terrain, winning, for example, the 8-hour day, trade union rights, civil rights, unemployment benefits, etc. But as long as the capitalist system itself survives, these gains enjoy only a tenuous existence as they gradually fall prey to the inexorable laws of capitalism. Because each capitalist must compete with other capitalists, all are compelled to maximize their profits simply in order to survive since those with the higher profits, for example, can undersell their competitors and push them out of business. But maximizing profits in turn demands that labor costs are held to a minimum, and for this reason capitalism imposes a relentless downward pressure on the standard of living of the working class so that all hard won gains are unmercifully under attack. Only a socialist revolution offers hope for the working class.
Moreover, because of its chaotic, unplanned structure, capitalism inescapably plunges humanity into one economic crisis after another. Recessions occur as a matter of course every 10 years or so where millions of people are thrown out of work, but the wrenching, agonizing depressions such as in the 1930’s are themselves unavoidable. Despite the capitalists’ pious promises that the Great Depression would never return, we are about to witness a second coming where the brunt of the pain will again be suffered by working people.
Because the interests of workers and the laws of capitalism stand diametrically opposed and socialism alone poses a solution to this conflict, we believe that class independence for workers constitutes a fundamental and defining principle. The suffering of the working class is rooted in class exploitation and its liberation lies only in the abolition of class society. Various sectors of the capitalist class might favor this or that reformed version of capitalism, but none stand for the elimination of class society and capitalism itself. Moreover, their reforms, too, fall victim to the laws of capitalism, the relentless pressure to maximize profits and lower labor costs which inevitably leads to ever-increasing inequalities in the distribution of wealth. For these reasons, we do not support any candidates within the Democratic or Republican Parties. We do, however, offer critical support to candidates running on a class independent program. For example, we offer critical support around the campaign of Cindy Sheehan. Although she has not embraced socialism, her program is aimed at defending the interests of working people, and if pursued consistently, would require socialism for its implementation.
In declaring that a socialist revolution is indispensable, we recognize that such a revolution will not emerge as the result of some natural process in the way that earthquakes erupt, for example. We reject all notions of catastrophism, or complete collapse. These predictions are based on pseudo “orthodox Marxist” mechanical materialism and peddle the idea that capitalism will suffer an inevitable and irreversible collapse from which the capitalists cannot escape and which in turn will somehow compel workers to erect socialism on its ruins. There is no automatic socialism; rather it arises as a conscious choice on the part of the working class that has become convinced that socialism represents the logical solution to the objective problems workers endure under capitalism. That is to say, the conscious intervention of the working class, guided by its leadership, is decisive. Consequently, we believe that a revolutionary socialist party plays a crucial role in this historical upsurge by educating its ranks, and through them, the vast majority of the working class in the theory and practice of revolutionary working class politics. Moreover, a revolutionary party is not only needed because revolutionary developments are neither predetermined nor inevitable, but because they never travel a unilinear course. If that were the case, it would make political intervention by a party merely a supplementary footnote to an “objective” historical development and not a necessary feature of the process of conscious social transformation.
Such a party does not set itself above the working class where it condescendingly dispenses esoteric information about Marxist theory while pontificating about the imminent collapse of capitalism. Rather this party is a part of the working class, providing it with crucial analyses and lessons from past struggles so that workers can move to effectively advance their own class interests. The revolutionary goal is the establishment of a society in which working people themselves determine all social policies so that society will be ruled directly by the majority of its members, as opposed to a small, extremely wealthy, capitalist minority.
In other words, the goal of a revolutionary party is the absolute and unequivocal liberation of the working class and, in turn, humanity. As such, this party must be run entirely democratically because, in the final analysis, the means or instruments one employs to wage a revolution are inseparable from the goal they promote. This implies that within the framework of democratic centralism, any minority must be granted full rights to articulate any disagreement. It must be afforded the opportunity to convince the other ranks of the party of the virtues of its convictions in an organized, rational, comradely discussion. After a full discussion has transpired and a vote has been taken, although the will of the majority will rule, no one in a minority should be compelled to agree with the majority or be required to publicly espouse or promote a position with which he or she disagrees.
While we are steadfastly dedicated to the goal of socialist revolution, we do not turn our back on working class struggles that fall short of this goal. In fact, as socialists we aim to play a leadership role in these class struggles. At times workers will feel compelled to fight for a higher wage, or defend health benefits, or oppose an imperialist war, etc. We think it is imperative to support these efforts and intervene whenever possible. Such struggles serve as a learning experience, a training ground for acquiring the elementary tactics of class warfare. And on those occasions in which workers score a solid victory, they become seasoned veterans with the confidence to wage even greater battles in the future. Through these struggles workers see for themselves the insidious entrapments of capitalism, they become self-conscious of their own power in overcoming the resistance of their employers, they experience first-hand the camaraderie of working class solidarity and hence become more receptive to the logical virtues of socialism. That is where we want to be. We participate in these united front struggles so as to win the majority of the working class to a revolutionary perspective.
Consequently, when we intervene in such struggles, we do not at the outset approach workers as if they had a level of revolutionary consciousness that could only be acquired at the end of such a struggle. For example, when participating in the antiwar movement, we do not call on the American working class to chant opposition to US imperialism in Iraq. Rather, we encourage them to march under the slogan, “Stop the War. Bring the Troops Home Now,” but we then take every opportunity to persuade those who will listen that US imperialism and the US capitalist class is indeed the real enemy. It is on this basis that we recruit to the party.
The antiwar movement serves as an example of a united front, a tactic that is an essential weapon in the revolutionary socialist arsenal. Here members of the working class who might belong to a variety of political parties, or none at all, put their political differences aside and agree to unite around a single issue: end the US war in Iraq. People who agree with this goal are not required to abandon their political perspective in order to participate, since unity is defined in terms of this single issue. No one should be barred from participation since the antiwar movement is objectively in the interests of the working class. This united front tactic, conducted independently of the capitalist class, allows workers to experience the strength that flows from solidarity and has been responsible for historic, working class victories.
While the united front is an effective weapon in advancing the interests of the working class, popular fronts derail these interests and miseducate the working class. Popular fronts, which by definition include both working class and bourgeois parties, are organized around programmatic agreement, as if workers and capitalists have some fundamental political agenda in common. In other words, revolutionary working class parties are required to drop their revolutionary program and adopt a program agreeable to the capitalist political parties they are uniting with. They inevitably spell political disaster for the working class. Workers are required to subordinate or totally sacrifice their own interests for the sake of political unity and they are led to believe that they can only be effective if they ally themselves with capitalists.
Along the same lines, we reject nationalism as the solution to the social and political problems of the working class in oppressed nations. Although we defend the right of oppressed nationalities to self-determination, we insist that the only salvation of the working class lies in international working class solidarity against each national bourgeoisie.
In other words, we embrace the conscious political strategy of permanent revolution whereby the working class fights for the leadership of the national liberation struggles by advocating the combined nature of the socialist and anti-imperialist revolution, thereby bringing the working class to power.
Finally, we want to indicate how we approach some of the more pressing, current, international conflicts.
We offer critical support to the Chavez government in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez has galvanized the oppressed masses in Venezuela and raised their hopes for a better world. By publicly embracing socialism, he has taken a significant step in a revolutionary direction. However, much has yet to be done in terms of nationalizing the economy, which remains basically capitalist, and creating institutions for working people so that they themselves can run the country.
Our approach to the US war in Iraq is to demand the immediate withdrawal of all US troops.
In Palestine, we oppose the so-called two-state “solution” to the conflict between Israel and the indigenous Arab population.
The state of Israel was created in essence by western imperial powers through their control of the United Nations for the purpose of maintaining a foothold in the Middle East to guarantee access to oil. Predictably, upon its inception, Israel relegated the Palestinian people within its borders to a second-class citizen status. Moreover, because it was established unjustly at the expense of the indigenous Arab population, who played no role in European anti-Semitism, Israel’s continued existence can only be secured by bourgeois force and violence where each act of repression only gives rise to even greater acts of resistance by the Palestinian people.
Because Israel’s continuing existence requires ever-greater acts of repression of the Palestinian people, and because the Jewish population of Israel, who have suffered the brunt of anti-Semitism, will never be free as long as they are oppressing another people, we support the creation of a single, secular state in Palestine. In this way, Jewish workers and Palestinian workers can unite together against their common enemy, the capitalists, and begin to forge the only real solution to their suffering: a single, secular, socialist state of Palestine.
We think that for the worldwide victory of the international working class, an international instrument is required which will enable the working class to lead all the exploited in overthrowing capitalism and establishing socialism. This instrument would be an international, revolutionary working class party, existing in every country of the world, and aimed at fomenting social and political revolutions in every country, with the exception of Cuba. In Cuba, we believe that the revolution must be extended to include workers’ democracy where the working class itself would clearly control and run the state, a step that would strengthen Cuba’s ability to defend itself against imperialist domination as well as capitalist restoration. This step would enable Cuba to articulate a consistent revolutionary working class line in international as well as domestic politics by encouraging workers throughout the world to wage class struggle against their capitalist class oppressors rather than form alliances with sectors of it. We encourage the formation of a revolutionary internationalist current in Cuba that would promote this line and attempt, in the most comradely manner, to win over the revolutionaries in the Cuban Communist Party, the trade unions, and other mass organizations of the working class to this perspective.
The socialism we fight for not only represents the liberation of the working class, but the liberation of humanity itself. We are dedicated to creating the kind of society where the full development of each individual is regarded as the indispensable condition for the full development of everyone, and where, because society will be democratically controlled by everyone, we can promote our collective interest rather than the exclusive interests of a tiny, fabulously rich minority, as capitalism would have it. This fundamental alteration would mean that every individual would be guaranteed comfortable housing, ample clothing, healthy food, convenient transportation, quality education and health care, and a clean environment. It would mean that everyone would have the right to a job, and with full employment we could reduce the workweek for everyone.
When people are freed from the constant stress over securing the basic necessities of life, humanity can cultivate its more intellectual and spiritual potentialities. The compulsive need to consume ever more worthless products will be replaced by the desire to create art, music, literature, science, and philosophy, in addition to engaging in recreation. Rather than evaluating individuals on the basis of their monetary income, they will be appreciated on the basis of the content of their character. Instead of turning our backs on people in need, we will extend a helping hand.
We believe this kind of society is worth fighting for.